Scottish Liberal Democrat housing spokesman Jim Hume MSP has criticised SNP Ministers for their sticking plaster approach towards tackling fuel poverty as he revealed a 50% rise in the number of Scots applying for emergency financial assistance to pay their heating bills.
Following a Scottish Liberal Democrat freedom of information request, the Scottish Government has published the latest data on applications for Community Care Grants and Crisis Grants to pay for fuel and heating bills. It shows 64,380 Scots received a total of £1.3million in financial aid in 2014-15 – a 50% rise on the previous year.
Coming just weeks after the Scottish Government proposed cutting spending on fuel poverty by £16 million next year, Mr Hume has said Ministers should not rely on emergency grants to counteract the lack of action on reducing fuel poverty levels in Scotland.
Commenting on the statistics Mr Hume said: “No-one in Scotland should have to choose between eating and heating but that’s the situation many people are currently faced with.
“The majority of these requests for help were made through crisis grant applicants which are emergency grants and should of course be available to those who need them. But SNP Ministers should not rely on them to counteract the fact they are not making much progress on reducing fuel poverty.
“Official statistics recently showed a more than a third of households are suffering fuel poverty and that had been ‘no real change’ in this rate. The Scottish Government’s plans to cut spending on tackling this by 13% won’t help one bit in protecting their pockets, tackling associated health problems or achieving our climate change targets.
“People who are fuel poor don’t want to listen to the Scottish Government’s constant denial on the extent of the problem. Instead of turning their heads in the other direction, SNP Ministers need to recognise they will miss the November 2016 target for eradicating fuel poverty in Scotland and devise an up-to-date action plan on how to tackle fuel poverty.”